Hugo Uys’ bio pic by Karl Simone
By Naveen Duwadi
Each month, Chef Hugo dives into the best of the ever-changing NYC food scene, offering up his top 5 restaurant discoveries. Going along for the ride, he’ll interview a noted South African celebrity, getting to know them over a great food and delicious conversation. Want to eat and drink like a New Yorker? Keep your eyes on this page.
[The Guest] In Conversation with Dr. Sindisiwe van Zyl
In a world where social media has given a voice to the masses, Dr. Sindisiwe van Zyl has used the platform as an instrument of change, driving awareness for HIV prevention and treatment, along with starting the conversation around oftentimes taboo subjects within the South African population, including mental health.
A proponent of holistic health and wellness, Dr. Sindi has crafted her own rules of engagement when it comes to living life consciously, which starts with the food that you put into your body. On a recent trip to New York City, Hugo connected with Dr. Sindi over one of her favorite meals: whole roasted chicken. Few do the dish better than the NoMad Restaurant, a contemporary spot in one of New York’s most trend-forward neighborhoods.
Photo by You In Pictures
I heard that you’re an almost-exclusive drinker of Champagne—any particular reason that you gravitate towards the bubbly?
After my first pregnancy, I developed alcohol-related allergies; when I’d drink my favorite white wine, my tongue would react. After a while of this, someone introduced me to bubbly, which worked well for about 2 years, but then the allergy came back. Fortunately, another friend introduced me to prosecco recently—let’s just say that Prosecco and I have been doing quite well so far (touch wood).
Particularly in America, chicken is a staple dish. Seeing as it’s one of your favorite foods, is there a way you love to prepare it when you’re cooking at home?
I’m a very simple eater in the fact that I like my food very straightforward. The roast chicken the way we had it at the NoMad Restaurant is exactly how I love my chicken prepared. Roast chicken or chicken stew are my preferred dishes, but as you can probably tell, I simply love chicken. I could eat chicken for breakfast, lunch and supper.
It’s well known that you’re one of the pioneers of HIV awareness and prevention in South Africa. How have you seen the conversation change in the country since the introduction of social media?
Social media has really changed the way people relate to HIV. It’s so important that we share the right information to individuals, especially with all the knowledge we have on the condition. My message on social media is one of hope. I show people that it’s a chronic condition that can be managed, and that people with HIV can still live full, healthy lives.
Are there any stories that people have shared with you on social media that have stuck with and inspired your work?
One of my special interests within the world of HIV is the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of the virus. The direct messages I receive from HIV-positive mothers continuing their journeys as parents and still having HIV-negative babies through proper treatments are the messages are what keep me going. As far as I’m converced, the most important HIV program is the world is the PMTCT (Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission) Program. It’s important for adults to know that they can be living with HIV, and can have children who can be born HIV free. It’s a very important message, and one that’s very close to my heart.
Where do you see the focus of health and wellness trends moving in South Africa?
Going forward, I think more and more people are going to embrace social media and the internet as a second opinion when it comes to their health. I love the way people are becoming empowered; that’s really what I enjoy doing, empowering people to make informed health decisions. More and more of us are going to be turning to social media and the internet as far as health is concerned. It’s a big disrupter in the space, and I can’t wait to see how it changes the landscape.
[The Top 5] Chef Hugo Uys’ Top Restaurants in NY for Chicken
Oftentimes thought of as the less adventurous option when dining out, chicken has gotten a bad reputation. Here to change that are Hugo’s top 5 restaurants where chicken is a must-order.
Photo by You In Pictures
Best Dish: Whole Roasted Chicken for Two
Best Dish: Pollo al forno
#3: Hell’s Chicken
Best Dish: Chopped Whole Chicken
#4: Dirty Bird to-go
Best Dish: Whole Rotisserie Chicken
#5: Le Coq Rico
Best Dish: Brune Landaise Whole Bird for Two
[The Recipe] Roasted Apricot Chicken
Being a native South African, I always try to incorporate sweet and savory flavors where I can; it’s a combination that works so well in South African cooking, and can translate to other cuisines quite easily. For those chicken lovers, here’s one of my favorite variations. The apricot here is the star; it gives a subtle sweetness that cuts through the rich flavors of the herbs and fat of the chicken.
- 1 whole medium-sized chicken
- 4 tbsp butter (I prefer grass-fed)
- 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tbsp apricot jam
- 1 lemon
- 1 bunch of fresh oregano
- 1 bunch of fresh rosemary
- 1 bunch of fresh thyme
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1 cup apricot juice
- Kosher salt, to taste
- Fresh ground pepper, to taste
- Wash chicken under cold water and pat dry using paper towels
- Loosen the skin on the chicken with your fingers
- Mix the extra virgin olive oil, butter and apricot jam in a bowl
- Rub this mixture between the skin and meat, and also on top of the skin to form a marinade
- Wrap the chicken in plastic wrap and leave in the refrigerator for 24 hours
- The next day, preheat your oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit
- Unwrap the marinated chicken
- Cut lemon into quarters
- Make a garni by tying the fresh herb bunches together with kitchen twine
- Stuff the chicken with the garni and lemon wedges
- Place the chicken in a roasting pan and pour white wine and apricot juice into the bottom of the pan
- Cover and roast for 45 minutes
- Use a thermometer and check the temperature of the bird; once you have reached 130 degrees farenheit take the lid off and let brown until 165 degrees fahrenheit
- Once cooked, let the chicken rest out of the oven for 10 minutes before serving (this way the juices will stay in the bird and not run out when you carve it)
Get in Touch with Chef Hugo Uys
Naveen Duwadi is the non-obvious millennial foodie. He’s worked extensively in the digital space, and was part of the initial team at HelloGiggles, a digital brand founded by actress Zooey Deschanel. Since then, he’s worked across Time Inc.’s food and luxury publications including FOOD & WINE and Travel + Leisure, helping to market the brands to Fortune 500 companies. Naveen currently resides in Manhattan’s West Village neighborhood, where he’s endlessly researching his next greatest meal.